Slithzerikai, or sliths, are a strong and intelligent race of lizard-people. They originated in the caves below Exile. They first encountered humans during the First Expedition, and the results were violent and bloody. Since then, there have been two major slith wars, creatively referred to as the First Slith War and the Second Slith War. Most sliths seen outside of the Bahssikava, excluding those from Gnass, are violent and hostile to humans, although more and more friendly sliths have begun to surface, prompting the Empire to take the largely ceremonial and political step of adding them to their friendly species list.
Slithzerikai are reptiles with humanoid characteristics. They have five clawed fingers on each hand and five clawed toes on each foot. They have scaly skin and their eyes are usually colored red, although some individuals may have blue eyes. All sliths have a tail for balance.
Sliths have a life expectancy that is notably beyond human standards, along the estimate of 150 years or more. It has been suggested that, like dragons, the slithzerikai never cease to grow; however, their growth rate slows down once they reach about two meters, and only a few live long enough to grow to enormous sizes. Even so, such gigantic sliths are known to have existed.
The sliths have a great advantage over the other humanoid races in being comparably large sized and strong. Their tough skin makes them clumsy and slow, but it also provides them with natural armor against enemies and monsters alike. Only a very strong (or very foolish) human would dare to take on a slith in hand-to-hand combat alone.
The sliths' traditional weapon of choice is a gigantic two-tined spear that's usually about two meters long. The spear requires enormous strength to wield, but gives great reach and stopping power to the wielder's disposal. Needless to say, such spears are most efficient in slith hands, allowing their physical traits to really come into their own.
As reptiles, the sliths are cold-blooded creatures and therefore require much warmth to live. In cold environments, they slow down severely. They become more susceptible to illness when cold, and may even go into a torpor.
In general the slithzerikai are extremely intelligent, and they have a great talent for magic, especially clerical magic. However, intelligence can vary greatly from slith to slith, and a large minority of sliths are raised as utter simpletons.
Sliths, like most sentient species, have developed their own language, fully independent from Imperial Standard, called Slithzerikaiis. Another language, known as Classical Slith or Homeland Slith, is spoken by the Sliths of Bahssikava, and is independent of Slithzerikaiis.
Not much is known of the mysterious race of the slithzerikai; almost as little as of the secretive, vengeful Vahnatai, for they come from far below the lands of Exile, and these caverns are no more their home than they are ours. Most Slithzerikai who lived in Exile originally were evil demon-worshippers, hostile to humans and all other races. They were themselves banished from their true homeland, and how it came to this is a long story only the rough details of which have been related to humans.
The Rebellion of Sss-Thoss
Legends tell of a holy empire, where the slithzerikai live in an advanced civilization of peace, knowledge and spirituality. Their homes are not built, but hewn as caverns into the solid bedrock, and their cities reach deep beneath the cave floor. The slithzerikai worshipped many different deities in ancient rituals of meditation and tranquility, and they carved statues in their likeness and honor.
Then, a slith named Sss-Thoss became apostate, and began to serve demons and other darker powers, that commanded him to stir up strife among his race. Through promises of power and wealth, he was able to persuade many others to follow him, and a small civil war ensued.
Sss-Thoss was defeated, and he and his followers were exiled from the slith homeland. They were sent up to the caverns that we now call Exile, and the tunnel they passed through was barred with a steel gate that could not be penetrated by any force.
The Slithzerikai in Exile
Some of the exiled slithzerikai continued to follow Sss-Thoss and his sons after him, and they fought the exiled humans many years later. Their leader Sss-Thsss, grandson of Sss-Thoss, was killed by the humans, and their power has greatly diminished since, although they still threaten humans every once in a while.
The other slithzerikai repented, and sought to regain their right to live in the homeland by whatever means possible.
These slithzerikai founded several settlements in Exile, most famously the city of Gnass and Lost Bahssikava. They were fought by the other slithzerikai, who they called Darklings for their worship of the darker powers. The reformed slithzerikai are at peace with humans, and have many times aided them against the Darklings.